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How to Win the Springtime Allergy Battle

Editor’s Note: Millions of us have just suffered through one of the coldest, snowiest winters ever. But now spring is here (even if it’s still snowing in some unlucky parts of the country). It’s great that winter’s over, but here’s the bad news: the spring allergy season is gearing up. Anyone who’s suffered from this common problem knows how irritating it can be. What’s more, if you have allergies, they’ll find you no matter if the weather is wet or dry. Here, from the Cleveland Clinic, are simple but smart ways to ward off spring’s biggest drawback:

When the weather finally warms up this spring, many of us will go from snow blowing to blowing our noses.

Lots of snow fell this past winter, which means there’s lots of water in the ground. That can set the stage for a bad allergy season.

That’s because lots of moisture in the ground usually means more pollen, says allergist Rachel Szekely MD. Szekely is an immunologist in the Department of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Cleveland Clinic.

“We’ve had a lot of precipitation over the winter. And when you have a lot of precipitation, you have more water in the soil and plants can grow better. More plants equals more pollen,” Szekely says.

Allergies getting an early start

Some people already are feeling the effects, Szekely says. Patients are starting to come in with itchy, watery eyes, runny noses and frequent sneezing.

“We’re a little worried that maybe it might be a bad allergy season,” she says.

Your best defense is to start taking your allergy medicines now, even if there’s still snow on the ground, Szekely says. This helps you to have your body defenses in place when pollen hits. Once allergies starts getting severe, they become difficult to control.

Rain – a good guy and a bad guy

As the weather warms up, rain will help to wash some of the pollen away. But rain brings another concern: mold spores.

“The people with pollen allergies usually get better when it rains or when the ground is damp,” Szekely says. “However, people who have mold allergy have a problem with that because the mold spores are in the air.”

Here are three tips that Szekely says can help to keep your seasonal allergies at bay:

Keep your windows closed and run the air conditioner, even on days that aren’t hot. (Editor’s note: Do not use fans, because they stir up dust—even if you think you’ve dusted thoroughly.)

Know that pollen is worst at dusk and dawn.

Rinse off your shoes or take a quick shower after being outside to keep pollen from lingering inside your home.

Cleveland Clinic experts also recommend that you minimize your exposure outside during the early part of the season. Don’t, for example, go on a camping trip.

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